EWA BEACH, Hawaii - Scientists have confirmed that the tsunami triggered by the earthquake in Chile has reached Hawaii.
The extent of the damage was not immediately clear, but the effects of the tsunami were obvious.
Water began pulling away from shore off Hilo Bay on the Big Island just before noon, exposing reefs and sending dark streaks of muddy, sandy water offshore. Water later washed over Coconut Island, a small park off the coast of Hilo.
he tsunami raced across the Pacific Ocean in terrifying force after the magnitude-8.8 quake hit Chile. Officials in Hawaii had ample time to get people out of the potential disaster area, and thousands were evacuated.
Earlier, sirens blared in Hawaii to alert residents to the potential tsunami. As the waves expected arrival drew near, roads into the tourist-heavy Waikiki were closed off. Police patrolled main roads, telling tourists to get off the streets.
On several South Pacific islands hit by a tsunami last fall, police evacuated tens of thousands of coastal residents.
The first waves in Hawaii were expected to hit around midday Saturday (5 p.m. EST; 2200 GMT). Most Pacific Rim nations did not immediately order evacuations, but advised people in low-lying areas to be on the lookout.